A law student’s exploration of a controversial area of health law has won the Australasian Association of Bioethics and Health Law’s best student essay prize.
Caitlin Davis’ paper, The boundaries of embryo research: Extending the 14-day rule assesses how ethics, science and the law often conflict, and was inspired by the ANU College of Law’s Health Law and Bioethics elective.
“Elective convenor, Professor Thomas Faunce, really inspired us to put our ideas out there and to challenge the norm,” Caitlin says.
“When I saw the opportunity to write something I was really passionate about and to put my ideas out there for others to read, this really inspired me.
“The essay competition provided the perfect opportunity for me to think about my own values in a controversial area of health law.
“I was inspired to enter the competition to challenge myself on a personal level, but also to challenge others about the ideas I was conveying.”
The competition’s intent concerned contesting boundaries and certainties against the reality of a rapidly advancing society.
Caitlin has long been interested in assisted reproductive technology and the law surrounding its regulation, both within the health law field and in other contexts such as family law, adoption and surrogacy.
“The topic of embryo status and the law that regulates research undertaken on embryos is very controversial and highly debated in several countries,” she explains.
“I knew this was the perfect topic for the competition as it was one I was very passionate about, and spans different fields including the law, ethics and philosophy.”
Reading Jodi Picoult’s novels, which deal with ethical, health and moral dilemmas, nurtured Caitlin’s interest in bioethics.
“My interest was also sparked by reading various health law publications, such as BioNews in the UK and American Journal of Bioethics, which produce some really interesting content on current health law debates and cases.
“What I enjoy most is that the topic of 'bioethics' is so broad and can span across several different fields such as science, ethics, sociology, medicine, law, and philosophy to name a few.
“I have aspirations to enter the medical and health law field post-graduation and to pursue further study in this area.”
In September, Caitlin will head to Townsville to present her paper at the Australasian Association of
Bioethics and Health Law’s annual Conference.
Prof. Faunce congratulated Caitlin on her success.
“I’m very proud of Caitlin for her initiative in submitting for and winning this prize,” he says.
“I trust it augurs well for a more success for her in the area of gene technology regulation.”